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COVID-19 Drug and Alcohol Abuse

By: Rachel Parodneck, LCSW

You may be experiencing an increase in stress during this pandemic. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions. These emotions can lead to increased alcohol and substance use. If you feel your drug and alcohol use has increased dramatically while confined in quarantine, you’re not alone.

Recently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data confirming a rise in fatal overdoses during the pandemic, and this year’s increases in calls to helplines across the country are indicative of growing anxiety, depression and trauma in Americans.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), drug use has skyrocketed since the pandemic began. To address this, the Biden Administration will provide nearly $2.5 billion in funding to states and territories to address the nation’s mental illness and addiction crisis, which has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a SAMHSA newsroom announcement, Acting Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Tom Coderre was quoted as saying “We know multiple stressors during the pandemic – isolation, sickness, grief, job loss, food instability and loss of routines – have devastated many Americans and presented unprecedented challenges for behavioral health providers across the nation.

SAMHSA resources connect Americans to evidence-based treatment and services every day,” said Coderre. “Focusing on both mental and substance use disorders – challenges that pre-date the COVID-19 pandemic but that have worsened over the past year – will be a crucial part of SAMHSA’s approach to helping the nation move forward.

Learn more about what may help if you or someone you care about is increasing drug use during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an infectious disease outbreak, when social distancing and self-quarantine are needed to limit and control the spread of the disease, continued social connectedness to maintain recovery are critically important.

Virtual resources can and should be used during this time. This tip sheet describes resources that can be used to virtually support recovery from mental/substance use disorders. It also provides resources to help local recovery programs create virtual meetings.

Refresh has a virtual art therapy substance support group beginning May 6, 2021 on Thursday evenings. Email for details.

List of COVID-19 Resources


SAMHSA Newsroom Press Announcements. (March 11, 2021). Retrieved from:

CDC Alcohol and Substance Use, (March 19, 2021). Basics of excessive alcohol use. Retrieved from:

CDC List of COVID-19 Resources, (February 16, 2021). Retrieved from:

SAMHSA. Virtual Recovery Resources. Retrieved on April 15, 2021 from: